The White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney announced Thursday morning the administration’s plans for a massive government reorganization, a move meant to increase the efficiency and productivity of the federal government.
Mulvaney released a memorandum Thursday that rescinds or modifies many of the requirements placed on federal agencies by the OMB. The office’s logic is rather straightforward: far too often agencies are required to spend more time and energy complying with menial tasks, rather than spending time allocating taxpayer dollars to effectively and efficiently carry out their missions.
“Many of the agencies simply have forgotten how to deregulate. It’s been so long since somebody asked them to go and look backwards,” Mulvaney told reporters Thursday morning in a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “Government never, ever does that. That is what this initiative is about.”
Mulvaney wants people to ask themselves whether or not the “government is supposed to be a jobs program, or is it supposed to serve the American people.”
While some might fear that OMB is asking agencies for draconian cuts to programs or initiatives, the office is putting the onus on the agencies themselves to come up with the best possible ways to reduce costs and minimize staff hours–a problem Mulvaney and his advisors have found is rampant in government. Over the course of their first five months, Mulvaney and his staff have found numerous instances of duplicative and burdensome reporting requirements.
“There are a lot of places where the government is so complicated that previous administrations didn’t realize what the agencies were already doing,” Mulvaney said. “So an agency might be required to give a piece of information to Congress. The administration might not know that so they layer on another requirement on that agency to give the that same information to the administration. That is wasteful and it takes a lot of time.”
Mulvaney points to a few requirements on his own agency that are burdensome and rather unnecessary. He favors the requirements on the OMB to continue providing guidance to agencies regarding the Gulf Water Horizon and Y2K.
OMB isn’t just asking other agencies to figure out where they can make cuts. The office has already found 59 redundant, obsolete or unnecessary memorandum that will be removed from all federal agencies. For example, agencies have been required since 2011 to develop a 10-15-page proposal to justify new contracts over $50 million that duplicated existing ones. Now, under new OMB direction, agencies are using a collaborative process that requires a simple 3-page proposal.
Mulvaney understands how difficult it can be, even as a member of Congress or an administration, to see just how many burdens are imposed on federal agencies.
“I was on the committee that oversaw this and had no clue. You might get a snippet in a hearing, but you didn’t actually look at it as a holistic problem,” Mulvaney told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The director explained that the reason we arrived at an overburdened, inefficient government is so very few members of Congress or individuals in executive-level positions get a clear picture of what is actually going on in the government.
“What’s the problem with having one more report? This given agency isn’t doing anything, let’s have them do a report,” Mulvaney quipped to TheDCNF regarding the general attitude in Washington. “Those reports end up being those compromised positions on the floor. One group wants to spend a lot of money and the other group doesn’t, and too often they end up splitting the baby and requiring the report. What we are seeing is the secretion of many decades.”
Thursday’s announcement is the first part of a three-phase process of the OMB’s effort to reorganize the government.
The first phase will conclude on June 30, when agencies will report back to the OMB regarding how they want to reorganize. Effectively, what requirements (reports, procedures, etc.) they decided are an inefficient use of their time and money.
The second phase will come on September 30. Agencies will be required then to turn in their budget proposal and their final recommendations for reorganization.
The final phase comes in February 2018, with the final government-wide reorganization plan is slated for release.
The end result of the initiative is still unknown. “You may end up with fewer agencies that are bigger. You may also end up with more agencies that are smaller,” Mulvaney said.
Regardless of how it turns out, the agency has received a great deal of support from private citizens. Over 100,000 people have submitted their suggestions on government reorganization to the OMB, a number that is rather mind-boggling to Mulvaney and his stuff.
As he left the meeting, a reporter asked him if he would be in favor of having Congress work through the office recess. Looking up with a half-smile, Mulvaney said, “yes.”
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